Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Delightful Fruits

As we were travelling back from the children’s music class, Clarissa was happily enjoying her portion of delicious honey sweet mango. “Who gave such delightful mangoes to you?” she asked me. “Its one of our friends from KL.” “Where did your friend find these mangoes?” “She must have bought it from her usual fruit supplier.” I was beginning to wonder where this conversation might lead to. “How did the supplier know that these mangoes are so sweet?” She asked again, popping another slice into her mouth. “The supplier must have tried it himself before recommending them to Aunty Helen.” I replied, hoping that this would be the end of it.

However, she continued, “The supplier must have tasted the mango and found it to be sweet. Then, he proceeded to plant the seed, from which the whole mango tree grows. Now, he has a whole tree full of sweet mangoes to sell!” She said matter-of-factly. “Only a good tree can produce sweet mangoes!” That was her conclusion.

I must admit that I was surprised at her profound findings. There I was, providing some superficial answers, hoping that they would satisfy her; but Clarissa was searching for the “truth” behind.

Our Lord Jesus had also commented on a good tree bearing good fruits 2000 years ago:

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:43-45

A while ago, one of my non-believer friends shared with me about her Christian friend, who was engaged in immoral activities. I recalled telling her that although this friend might profess to be a Christian, she was unlikely to be committed to the Lord. “If she is truly dedicated to Jesus, she would find it hard to betray her husband.” I shared. At that point in time, I had forgotten about the “Good Tree” teaching by Jesus.    

Indeed, if anyone is in Christ, it would be quite impossible for him to produce “bad fruits”. 

Friday, August 20, 2010

No Rocket Science

Ever since stepping into the F&B industry, I found myself reading more and doing more research. In fact, I have never ordered books in the internet until I discovered that most of the notable F&B textbooks are available on Amazon. I have even subscribed to restaurant to tap into their numerous audio resources, articles and monthly magazines.

Having armed with all these useful information, one would think that our F&B outlet must be doing exceedingly well. On the contrary, we are barely surviving (hence, the research)! Over time, I realised that all these knowledge are futile if I don’t put them to good use. Therefore, meetings were set-up to discuss about our operations, and what we can do to improve the performance of not only the outlet but the staff too.

Once we start to apply the theories, the pieces begin to come together. Revenue is now charted on a positive gradient and the staff is beginning to see an improvement in the management. There was no rocket science really but it took me a few months to realize the importance of fervent practice and continuous application!

In fact, after I have been through the process above, my comprehension of what Jesus spoke regarding the builder who built his house on the rock versus one who built his on sand, took on a new level.

“Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” Luke 6 46-49

It is amazing what was spoken more than 2000 years ago by our Lord is relevant in so many areas of our lives, including our work. If I could put in so much effort to improve my work performance, surely I would place even more emphasis when it comes to my spiritual life and eternal destination? Sadly, this doesn’t happen all the time.

Thank you Lord for showing me the importance of active obedience and putting to practice what I have learnt from your words. As much as our F&B outlet has benefited from the application of proven theories, our lives would be transformed for the better when we choose to obey you.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Saturday Encounter

This wasn’t how our spent our typical Saturday night but to show our support to our church’s Boys Brigade, we bought tickets and attended their 10th Anniversary Dinner. Thinking that this would be a dull evening, I was pleasantly surprised when I found a friendly mother seated next to me, asking me about what I thought of Boys Brigade.

“My son is turning to be quite rebellious and upon my friend’s recommendation, I decided to enroll him on BB. So, how do you think BB has impacted your daughter’s life?” Melisssa asked curiously.  I told her that we enrolled Clarissa so that she would be more willing to try out new stuff. She has always been quite reserved but through the numerous activities organized by BB, she has learnt to be more independent and helpful at home. She has also grown to be more socially aware of the poor and needy.   

Over the course of time, she began to be more open and started to tell me about her Christian friends. “I could really see how your religion has impacted my friends’ lives. Through hardships and heart-breaking reconciliations, I could see their faith at work! I wouldn’t know how to cope if I were put in their shoes, but I can really see that Christianity is a real source of spiritual and emotional support in their lives” She shared without hesitation.

“Well then, this shows that God has been knocking on the door to your heart, asking you to open the door to let him in. What you had witnessed was more than mere spiritual support, but rather its God at work in their lives, which is supernatural power.” I responded. “Now, the same God is standing before you and reaching out to you through your friends. It is not just help that He is offering, but eternal life and forgiveness from our sins.  One day, we will all face judgment after we died and God will stand as our judge and determine our final destination. Therefore, it is important that we are reconciled to Him before its too late.” When I explained to her that her salvation was just a prayer away, she was amazed.

Although we had since gone on our own separate ways, I prayed that God will continue to touch her life and more importantly, that she would one day, open her heart to receive Jesus as her personal Saviour.

"And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Joel 2:32

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Putting Up a Struggle

I love peace and quietness at home. In fact, after Joseph turned 2, these were rare occurrences at home. I would be quite happy to trade hard-to-win compliance from him with just peace and quietness.

However, teaching obedience comes with a price; it quite often comes with a struggle. It didn’t matter to Joseph that I was driven to my limits nor that I had in fact a pile of office work waiting for me to digest and especially not that I was exhausted from a day’s work. Joseph was determined to have his way. He would use a hammer to bang on the room door until it was dented, or he would roll on the floor if he found himself in a lying down position, or he would stomp on his feet if his two feet were conveniently standing, and his most powerful weapon would be his relentless, insufferable, aggravating cries!

I found my authority challenged, emotions drained, sanity pushed to the limit. Years ago, I read a book entitled “Boundary with Kids” in which the author encouraged the parents to stay firm and not give in to their children as one day, these children would “give up their stand” and choose to obey instead! For about two years, I was clinging onto this advice but more importantly, I have been praying to our Heavenly Father almost every night out of desperation.

To my surprise, I realised that the first person who needed changing was not Joseph but me! Through the crying sessions, God taught me about patience and staying focus. Moreover, my love for peace and quietness was in fact a reflection of my self-centredness. As soon as I put aside my expectation, I found his wailing sessions easier to bear.  Over time, I began to learn that part of the reason why he cried persistently was that he was afraid to lose my love. Therefore, despite feeling annoyed, I had to assure him that I loved him.

Recently, my mum commented to me “Did you realize that it has been some time since Joseph cry?” Much to my amazement, my mum was right! In fact, I thought that every one of us has a chapter similar to Joseph’s. First, we who are stiff necked, turned away from God and went after our own dreams. God through his patience and love, continued to pursue us until one day, we decided to return to Him in repentence. Over time, through the working of His Holy Spirit, we learned to obey God lovingly and willingly. Our lives display the work of His hands. Praise the Lord for His faithfulness!

“Trials have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:7

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Slowing Down

Due to my professional training, I placed great emphasis on deadlines and carried undue urgency in completing an assignment. Therefore, the phrase “learning to take my time” was alien in my work ethics, until my children came along.

Simple tasks like getting them to bed could take one hour or more, and weaning them to sleep on their own, at their own bed, has taken me more than 8 years and so far, I have yet to succeed! I used to take 15 mins to get ready before going out; now, I am delayed by having to pack and getting Clarissa and Joseph ready; and if any one of them were to interrupt my train of thoughts and instruct me further on what to bring, I would have forgotten what I was engaged in at the first place!

Through parenting, God has brought home a valuable lesson to me: Time is no longer of essence but how I bring up my children is of paramount importance. I could almost hear Him whispering into my ears “Fee, you need to slow down and listen to your children. You need to walk in step with them, otherwise, you would not be able to appreciate them as you ought to.”

Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to sit and watch Clarissa and Joseph taking their swimming lessons. To my amazement, they had progressed much more than I had expected. Joseph, my five year old, who could barely float 1 month ago, was learning free style!

Up till when Joseph was four, he was known to be difficult. His cries used to drive all of us up the wall and away from him. Now, I realised that he has shed his old ways. His dreaded trademark is replaced with cheerfulness and cheekiness. Most of all, he is able to listen to reasoning without losing his cool. I can’t help but smile when I see him kicking in the water despite his constant complains of chill. His ability to put aside his dislikes and emotions warms my heart.

Such reflections made me realize how much both of them have grown not only in physique but also in character. I used to make it my daily goal that they are trained to sleep in their own beds; now I am enjoying the warmth of their bodies and the sound of their breathing next to me every night. Thank you God for blessing me with Clarissa and Joseph and using them to change my worldly values.

Children are a gift from the Lord: they are a reward from Him. (Psa 127:3)

Joseph restoring joy to a friend

We were at a family retreat at Cameron Highlands. Children were having a fun time playing frisbees when one child, Ashton, threw the frisbee...